Tag Archives: Blog Hop

Story Hop Blogtour

The Frustration of Bureaucracy

By J.M.D. Reid

TheStoryHopLogothumbnailI used to have a job as a paratransit operator for Pierce Transit’s SHUTTLE program. And yes every letter of SHUTTLE has to be capitalized. I have no idea why, but it does.

Now I didn’t work directly for Pierce Transit but for a private company that had a contract to drive the SHUTTLE. Pierce Transit contracted the work out because of Federal money. According to the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) a public transit agency had to provide alternates means of transportation for those who cannot walk to the nearest bus stop within a mile. So we drove these small buses around, picking up people. It’s expensive to operate. A person riding the SHUTTLE pays the same disabled fare as the regular bus ($.75 per trip) and we often often ran with only one or two passengers at a time. We even would deadhead (drive empty) across the entire county to pick up a passenger. Because of the expense, the Federal government sends grant money. But this money comes with strings requiring a percentage of the work has be performed by private companies.

1024px-Pierce_Transit_Shuttle
One of the SHUTTLEs I used to drive. 5097 (pictured above) once broke down on me in University Place.

So I answered an want ad I found on Worksource’s website and found myself a job driving around senior citizens, people in wheelchairs, those suffering from various mental and physical disabilities, and patients using dialysis. It was a rewarding, stressful, long, tiring job. Some of the riders were pleasant, thankful for the SHUTTLE allowing them to have lives outside of their homes, no longer prisoners of the afflictions of their bodies. Other passengers were bitter, blaming the world for the pain and suffering they had gone through.

And then there were the mentally handicapped. Many were adults, but they often had a zest for life, going to church or to the endless activities that community centers were always offering. But sometimes their handicap could make them…difficult.

I only ever had one major injury on the job. It was my day off, of course. I normally worked an afternoon/evening route starting between 1 and 3 PM and getting off between 9 and 11 PM. The thing with the SHUTTLE is routes had to be filled. If someone was sick, if someone was on vacation, or just due to the attrition of the job (we lost 4 drivers a month) those routes still had to be filled. So you could be mandatoried on your day off. For evening drivers, that often meant working a morning route on your day off. That day, I had to start at 6 AM. I was tired. I pulled up at this apartment complex to pick up a rider suffering from some form of autism. I stepped out of my bus.

Right onto a drain. It was lower down than I expected. Stepping out of the driver door of the SHUTTLE was already a long step. My ankle rolled, pain exploded, and I collapsed in a heap on the ground. I tried to stand, but my ankle wouldn’t support my weight. The day before, we had Nextel radios for communication, but Pierce Transit had just phased them out in favor of the CAD system. I had a radio phone in my SHUTTLE and I had to crawl back into my vehicle to radio for help.

While I was lying in pain on the ground, my passenger had boarded the SHUTTLE. He didn’t seem to understand that I had seriously hurt my foot. I couldn’t drive my SHUTTLE if I wanted to and he’s demanding I take him to work, growing more and more agitated, yelling at me as I’m trying not to erupt and yell at him.

Dispatch followed procedure and, despite my protests, called 911 for an ambulance. I wasn’t that injured. I just needed a supervisor to drive me to an urgent care unit. Well, the fire department arrived while my passenger continued to complain and shout at me. I just wanted to throttle him. It wasn’t his fault, he had a condition and he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t going to work. He had a schedule to keep. When the fire department arrived, they stared at my foot for about thirty seconds, demanded to know why dispatch called 911 for a non-emergency, berated me for wasting their time, and left.

My supervisor arrived with a relief driver a few minutes later. I was then berated for letting 911 leave without checking me out. Apparently, dispatched expected 911 to drive me to the emergency room on a badly sprained ankle.

My boss wasn’t happy that I had been injured. We were allowed three minor accidents accidents in the SHUTTLE per year. Little fender benders, minor damage to the shuttle, backing into a mailbox. My boss decided to count my physical injury as one of these accidents. Only a month early I had minor accident on the SHUTTLE. Now I couldn’t afford another accident for almost a year.

It was such a great day. This is one of the many reasons I don’t do this job anymore.

Oh, and of course this was government work, so I had fill out an incident report so that it was all documented before I was taken to the doctors. I spent a month on time-loss before my ankle had recovered enough for me to go back to work, my boss demanding that I get back to work as fast as possible.

One of my worst days on the job.

TheStoryHopLogothumbnailIf you want to read more stories, check out the other amazing authors that are participating in The Story Hop blog tour, part of the 2015 Author Cyber Convention

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Favorite Screen Characters Blog Hop

Susan Kicklighter invited me to participate in the Favorite Screen Characters blog hop. It’s a simple, fun hop. Name your ten favorite TV or Movie characters, then nominate ten friends to do the same!

So here’s mine. I’ll have to admit, this wasn’t easy. Lots of great movies. Lot’s of great TV shows. I jotted down my favorites, attempted to rank them, and here we go:

  1. Londo Mollari, Babylon 5
    Londo’s character arc is one of the most complex you’ll ever see in a TV show. He starts out as a buffoon, rises to power, realizes the depth of his crimes, finds redemption, and ends as a tragic hero. His relationship with G’Kar is one of the most powerful you’ll ever see.
  2. Madmartigan, Willow
    Madmartigan is simply fun. Brash, wild, the classic mercenary with a heart of gold. I loved Willow as a child, and the movie still holds up. There are plenty of characters like Madmartigan, but there are none I’d rather watch more.
  3. Vic Mackey, The Shield
    A complex character in a complex cop drama. Watching Vic Mackey lead his Strike Team proves the old adage, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What starts out as a shortcut to get the bad guys off the streets ends up destroying the lives of Vic and his Strike Team. Vic is such a charismatic guy, you can almost forget what a bastard he is.
  4. Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings
    Lord of the Rings is the reason I write fantasy. Without Tokien’s work, I’m not sure I ever would have fallen in love with the genre as a boy. There are a lot of great characters, but Sam rises above the rest. Solid and practical, and loyal to a fault. He walks into a literal Hell with his friend, and when Frodo can’t keep trekking, Sam carries his friend up Mount Doom.  And while the Peter Jackson adaptation weakned Sam’s character slightly (the brutal character assassination on the steps of Cirith Ungol), Sean Astin captured the essence of Sam and brought him to life.
  5. John Locke, LOST
    I am a big LOST fan. Unlike many, I wasn’t incensed by the ending. There are a lot of great characters. I could have built the list with characters just from LOST, but my favorite is John Locke. At the beginning, he’s this engimatic, and even a little creepy, individual. And then episode four comes around. Walkabout is one of my favorite episodes of LOST, and the depth of passion John Locke possess is astounding.
  6. Buffy Summers, Buff the Vampire Slayer TV
    Buffy is my favorite Joss Whedon character. She smart, sexy, and strong, throwing one liners while fighting the big bad. There’s also a great deal of depth to the character. The show puts her through the crucible, and she bears every last emotional wound over the course of the series.
  7. Walter Bishop, Fringe
    Walter Bishop is an amazing character. He’s the quintessential mad scientist. In his past, he performed some pretty unethical experiments in his drive for knowledge. Now, he’s an old man suffering from mild dementia, fearfully retreating from the horrors he caused and forced to confront them over the course of the show.
  8. Valeria, Conan the Barbarian
    The first Conan movie (the Arnold one, not that terrible remake they did a few years back) is the best sword and sorcery. And it has one of the best, kick ass women in movie history. Valeria is so badass she comes back as a Valkyrie to save Conan’s rear a second time in the movie’s climax. She’s as capable a fighter as Conan, fighting at his side as an equal.
  9. John McClain, Die Hard
    Of course the hero of the best action film of all time made my list. John McClain gets beat up and still keeps going. He didn’t ask to be the hero. He just wanted to try and patch up his relationship with his wife. The everyman hero is a great character, and John McClain is one of the best examples of this archetype.
  10. Ellen Ripley, Aliens
    Ripley is an amazing character. She is tough. She survives one of the most terrifying horror movies. And in Aliens, she’s forced to confront it all over again. And she steps up. Her confrontation with the Alien Queen to rescue Newt, her surogate daughter, forever cements Ripley as the best female action heroines of movie history!

Well, that’s my top ten. It was hard to choose them all, but some runners up are: Ben Linus (LOST), Hurley (LOST), Dean Winchester (Supernatural), G’Kar (Babylon 5), Abed (Community), Dwight K. Schrute (The Office), Betelgeuse (Beetlejuice), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Snape (Harry Potter), and Claudette Wyms (The Shield).

Check out Susan’s post to read hers and others!

Now, I’m tagging these great people! I can’t wait to hear yours!

Jane Bled, janebled.wordpress.com

Q.S. Khan, qs-khan.com

Jess Alter, indieimprint.com

Tim Hemlin, timhemlin.com

Tamara Ferguson, sbpra.com/tamaraferguson

Mindy Ogg, mindyogg.com

B.B. Blaque, www.bbblaque.com

BSM Stoneking, www.bsmstoneking.com

Leslie Moon, moondustwriter.com

M.I. Jean, www.mijean.com

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